It was a short exchange during Wednesday afternoon's daily COVID-19 briefing by Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
It carried quite a bit of information, though.
Here is my transcription:
Disembodied official voice: "Operator, can you put through the next question, please?"
Operator: "Next is Michelle Bellefontaine with CBC. Go ahead, Michelle."
Michelle Bellefontaine: "Oh, hi there, Dr. Hinshaw. Thanks for taking my call. Today in the legislature, Premier Kenney indicated that Alberta will not renew the state of public health emergency on June 15. So what does that mean? And how would that affect people's lives here in Alberta?"
Dr. Deena Hinshaw: "Uh, so, I, uh, I haven't had the opportunity to have that conversation. So I think that might be a question best addressed to the premier in terms of that particular information."
Hinshaw keeps a good poker face. Just the same, though, one didn't have the sense she was pleased.
Good for Bellefontaine for asking the question. Most of the rest of the media were focused on the complications of allowing NHL teams to play in Alberta during a pandemic, and, more seriously, on the occurrence of a case of multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children, a serious condition associated with COVID-19.
Will any of the press gallery's reporters bother to put Bellefontaine's question to the premier? That remains to be seen.
And good for Hinshaw, too, I guess, for revealing as much as she did. Premier Jason Kenny and his digital praetorian guard won't be pleased either.
Since she declined politely to follow up, here are your blogger's thoughts on what her response really meant: Mr. Kenney doesn't just ignore my advice, he doesn't even consult me.
If she had been as annoyed as she looked like she might be, she could have added: I'm considering my options.
Hinshaw has to know that if there's a major second wave of COVID-19 as a result of this government's rush to get back to fighting with physicians, privatizing parks, creating pipeline jobs in Montana, and getting its paws on your Canada Pension Plan, she's the one who's going to have to stand there expressing her sympathies with the bereaved and making excuses for the government.
So she might also have said, pay no attention to my little homily at the start of this briefing, about how "COVID-19 was and is a deadly illness," and "we must continue to be cautious in our relaunch," because the government of Alberta certainly doesn't plan to.
Were Hinshaw not an obvious team player, she might even have made a pithy observation about that bit at the start where she said "we are still in this fight together." It would seem we're not.
This all reminds me of a famous bit of movie dialogue:
Capt. Louis Renault: "What in heaven's name brought you to Casablanca?"
Rick Blaine: "My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters."
Capt. Renault: "The waters? The waters? We're in the desert!"
Rick Blaine: "I was misinformed."
Here endeth the lesson.
David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions at The Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. This post also appears on his blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.
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